Africa Is a Vast Continent; BOOK REVIEWS the Man of Passage and Other Stories out of Africa by Ian Mathie. Livewire. Pounds 15

The Birmingham Post (England), March 31, 2007 | Go to article overview

Africa Is a Vast Continent; BOOK REVIEWS the Man of Passage and Other Stories out of Africa by Ian Mathie. Livewire. Pounds 15


Byline: Reviewed by Jayne Howarth

Africa is a vast continent with thousands of cultures and adventures to be had in every village.

Ian Mathie is a man who has been lucky enough to experience many areas of Africa: from a child when he lived in North Rhodesia (now Zambia) and as an aid development worker as an adult.

He lives a quieter life in Warwickshire nowadays, but was keen to record his times in Africa, using the journals he kept while out there.

This collection of 16 short stories offers one man's perspective of life, warts and all. There are tales of outrageous bureaucracy, low-scale corruption, but most of all kindness from the townspeople. It is clear the writer has a genuine affection and respect for the different cultures he encounters.

For a non-fiction text, Mathie does tend to wax lyrical sometimes in the style of a romantic novelist but there are some gems in there.

Of particular note are the funny stories, which are like the Ronnie Corbett anecdotes of yesteryear.

Once the tale gets going, The Visa is one of those Trains, Planes and Automobiles slapstick stories, which would lend itself to a comedy sketch: utterly frustrating, with the protagonist going round in circles until the killer climax is delivered. The same can be said for Togo Telephone Tango. …

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